The Proposed Employee Council Becomes a Reality

After several months and many meetings, the Employee Council Working Group sent out election ballots that would elect staff from the administration and coach areas of the college to be added to the current members of the ACPP. 

After the election, the ACPP will dissolve and the Employee Council will become the first all-inclusive committee that represents  non-faculty staff at Amherst.

The election ballots went out the 2nd week of December and at the end of the deadline, we had an overwhelming return of 65% of votes from these two groups.

The members of the First Employee Council are:

Irene Berwick, Summer Conferences
Joe Boucher, Chemistry
John Carter, Campus Police
Suzette Farnham, Music
Mark Fiegenbaum, Frost Library
Kevin Gladu, Facilities, Trades
Howard Hanna, Academic Technology Services
Heidi Kellogg, Facilities/Custodial
Edward J. Mills, Physical Education
Howard Morrison (on leave), Dining Services
Barbara A. St. Onge, OAS/Mailing Center
Renae Terry, Dining Services
Mark Uchneat, Facilities/General
Cate Zolkos, Admission

The Council is eager to begin its work and will be calling upon staff for their input in the near future.

Answers to the Questions and Concerns from the Employee Council Survey

When will the Employee Council come into being?

 On January 1, 2011, following a special election.  As of January 1, 2011, the ACPP will cease to function.


Who will serve on the Employee Council? 

 The ECWG recommends that 10 non-Trustee Appointed (TA) staff and 3 TA staff/coaches serve as the initial membership of the Employee Council.  This composition roughly approximates the number of employees in each category currently working at the College.


How will we know who is eligible to be nominated and who is eligible to vote in the upcoming special elections?

 The 10 non-TA staff will come from the current elected membership of the ACPP. All staff employees not currently represented by the ACPP, except for members of the Senior Staff, will be eligible to vote in the special election for the three remaining members of the EC.  Current members of the Managers’ Council may vote but are not eligible to stand for election in the upcoming special election. The Working Group will enclose a list of eligible employees in its call for nominations, to be issued in the second week of November.


Why is a Special Election being held only for employees not already represented by the ACPP? And what will happen to the current ACPP members? How will the transition from the ACPP to an Employee Council occur?

Why not just have an at-large election for all 13 Employee Council representatives?

 The ECWG agrees that a smooth transition with overlap between the existing ACPP and the new Council is essential, even though the new Council will be a distinct body with its own charge and procedures.  After considerable discussion with current members of the ACPP, the Working Group has proposed that current ACPP members serve out the remainder of their elected terms as members of the new Employee Council.  The ECWG will sponsor an at-large election among employees not currently represented by the ACPP (TAs and coaches) to identify 3 additional representatives to the Employee Council. The top 3 vote-getters in the special election will serve a minimum of one-year terms.  This election process makes use of the existing process for selecting non-TA representatives to the ACPP and will allow for continuity with the current ACPP elected membership.

 We note that the ECWG has developed a process for this first, special election only.  It will be the responsibility of the members of the EC to determine how future elections will be conducted and the terms to be served by members elected after this initial year.


If the EC will represent and include supervisors, how can the EC ensure that employees in non-supervisory jobs will feel free to speak their minds and will have their opinions heard?

Why not bar anyone who is a manager from serving on or participating in the activities of the EC?

 The current elected ACPP membership includes some non-TA employees with significant managerial responsibilities, in some cases equal to or greater than the managerial responsibilities of some department heads who are TA employees. Relatively few managers at the College serve on the Managers’ Council. Rather than excluding a sizable group of College employees from any representation at all—an idea that runs counter to both the opinions of the majority of survey respondents and the stated goals of the Administration when it advocated the creation of an inclusive Employee Council—the ECWG has recommended that all TA employees who do not currently serve on the Managers’ Council be eligible to stand for election to the EC. Once elected, the Council may decide to create subcommittees or working groups to address the concerns of those workers who are not supervisors.


I’m a TA employee and feel I have ample access to senior administrators, who listen to my ideas and concerns. Why do we need a council that represents all non-faculty employees?

 The Report of the Advisory Budget Committee (ABC) recommended “..that structures for involving staff in decision-making at the College be strengthened.”  This recommendation was an acknowledgment that there was no direct TA representation on the ABC.  Since then, senior administrators and trustees have voiced their support for an advisory group that can share the concerns and ideas of non-faculty employees with other AmherstCollege constituencies.  TA employees vary considerably in their duties and in the degree of access they have to senior staff, and many issues are of concern to TA and non-TA staff alike. Representation through an inclusive Employee Council can ensure that non-TA and TA employees and coaches have a common channel for communication, regardless of their job responsibilities or reporting relationships.


What will be the role of Human Resources in the new Employee Council?

 The new Employee Council will develop a charge and its own policies and procedures, but it will not report to or be convened by HR.  Because personnel and benefits policies are ongoing concerns of employees, we anticipate that the Council, or a subcommittee of the Council, may consult with HR, as it would consult any other College administrator or office. Elected members of the EC may also decide to request periodic meetings with other Amherst administrators and groups, in order to fulfill the Council’s mission and promote open communication among staff, faculty, administrators, and trustees.


What will be the new Council’s mission and priorities?

 The members of the Employee Council will be responsible for developing and communicating a mission and priorities for the new group, but the proposal developed by ACPP and the ECWG recommends that the group serve as a channel for communications between non-faculty employees of the College and other College constituencies, including administrators and faculty. 

 Since the Employee Council will come into being for the first time in January 2011, we anticipate that its priorities in the first year will involve establishing a mission, charge, and modes of meeting and communicating with other groups on campus.


How will we know that the EC isn’t just for show? What real power will it have?

 All College committees, including standing faculty committees, play an advisory role.  That said, an inclusive Employee Council has the potential to more fully represent the needs and interests of all non-faculty employees, and, by virtue of its inclusivity, may have greater credibility with senior administrators and trustees.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of the new Employee Council will depend in large part on the commitment and involvement of the employees it represents.  The Working Group strongly encourages all eligible staff to participate in the election process.

The Proposed Employee Council

In our effort to become a more inclusive committee representing both Trustee Appointed and non-Trustee Appointed staff, an Employee Council Working Group has been formed to begin the work of creating a non-faculty Employee Council. 

A brochure describing what the proposed council would look like was  sent to all staff who would be represented by this council.  Additionally, a survey requesting input from staff was sent out in June.

The Brochure and survey can be viewed by clicking on the pdfs below.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the survey or the formation of the Employee Council, please contact any one of the members of the Working Group:

Irene Berwick
Summer Programs
AC#2270, Ext. 8102

Dee Brace
Department of Philosophy
AC# 2253, Ext. 5805

Jan Jourdain
AC# 2256, ext. 8209

Karen Lovely-Leach
AC#2237, ext. 2081

Denise McGoldrick
Health Education
AC# 2246, ext. 2760

Lisa Stoffer
Foundation & Corporate Relations
AC# 2224, ext. 2724

Barbara St. Onge, Chair
OAS/Mailing Center
AC# 2222, ext. 2820